Thursday, 31 May 2012

All Souls: "Our fellows of the early 20th century never imagined (reversion) would have happened"

Keep Willesden Green supporter, Susan Clark, has received the following response from All Souls College about the situation at Kensal Rise Library following the council's dawn raid:
The College has of course been made aware of the “dawn raid” to which you refer. 
It is indeed very sad that the Council has closed the library.  This is something we made clear to the Council would trigger a reverter, thereby resulting in the freehold coming back to the College, something our Fellows of the early 20th century never imagined would have happened.  We had hoped the Council might keep the library open, and encouraged them to discuss with the Friends of Kensal Rise Library that possibility.
At present, we have no “exact plans”.  On all property-related matters, however, we are advised by professional advisers.  Some time ago we advised the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to meet with these advisers to discuss what might happen if the site were to revert to our ownership, and I know that at least one meeting has taken place between them.
Yours faithfully,
Tom Seaman
Fellow and Estates Bursar

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Deceived, cheated and disheartened...

Following the Council's action in the early hours of this morning when they stripped Kensal Rise Library of books and murals, Kate Spence, joint chair of Keep Willesden Green, has sent the following letter to Cllr Butt, newly elected leader of Brent Council:
Dear Cllr Butt,

It has been dreadful to wake up to the news that your promises of engagement and respect for Brent residents are so shallow. Stripping Kensal Rise Library of  its history, books, plaques and all that give our community identity and reference is a barbaric act. 
Your words and good intentions when you became leader for Brent Council gave residents hope that you wanted to listen and engage with the electorate you serve. 
The furtive and underhand manner in which the Kensal Rise Library has been stripped of murals, furniture and books has left us all feeling deceived, cheated and disheartened.

Kate Spence

Friday, 25 May 2012

Michael, I just thought you may like to know...

Michael Rosen children's writer and broadcaster
From Michael Rosen's Blog  LINK
Here's a letter I received about the situation with Brent libraries. I am reprinting it in its entirety with permission from its writer, Gill Wood.

Dear Michael,

I was intrigued and frankly flabbergasted to read the email Councillor James Powney sent you about Brent's intentions to issue every child with a library card posted on your blog on 27th April.

You may be aware that Brent Council closed half of its libraries last year, and concerned residents in Willesden Green are fighting the Council's current proposals to demolish the library we have here, not even 30 years old, as well as the original Victorian Library building that has been on the site since 1894 and built by the poor ratepayers of the area at the time who recognised the importance of literacy to their population.

The plans will also evict our much loved Willesden Bookshop, which specialises in children's and multicultural books, and has supplied books at a discount to most of the schools in Brent and beyond in the twenty three years they have been on the site.

The Council plans to give a housing developer valuable public land [the library car park at the back of the building] in return for a new cultural centre building and five blocks of luxury flats. The new building will have a smaller footprint than the one we currently have, and in spite of the need for affordable housing for those on the Council's ever increasing lists, there is no affordable housing provision included in the proposed development. The Council gets a new building and the freehold of a smaller plot, and the developer ends up with a new housing scheme it can sell at market rate.

There is a huge danger that we will lose our bookshop because it will not be able to afford the commercial rates it will need to meet. I was at a Brent Executive meeting when the same Councillor Powney (who voted for this development along with the rest of the Executive without allowing those residents and stakeholders in the library a full and substantive consultation about the plans) told those present that the retail space in the new building will be "high end" commanding a high rent, which the bookshop will not be able to manage. I consequently find his comments to you outrageous and incredibly offensive.

The Council has now posted the planning applications on its website and Brent residents now have until the end of May to write to the planning officer, Andy Bates [] and lodge their objections. This is the last opportunity for those of us whose views have been ignored up to this point to make our voices heard before it is too late. I would like to urge every Brent resident who has concerns to write within this crucial consultation period and make their views known.

Numbers crunched by the SOS Libraries Campaign based on the Council's own figures show that in the period between October 2011 to March 2012 (6 months after the libraries closed) 152,000 fewer books were issued and Brent libraries received 148,250 fewer visits compared with the same period the previous year. 54% of borrowers from the 6 closed libraries have not subsequently used another Brent library. The statistics and the actions of the Council speak for themselves.

It is a laudable intention to issue every child with a library card. It would be even better for those children to be within easy reach of a library which will allow them to use it.
Here we have a Council actively terminating the life of a small business at the heart of our community and choking off opportunities for children to read, thereby reducing opportunities to raise the borough's poor literacy rates for the sake of a developer's profit margin. This is being brought about by councillors, like Lead Member Powney and the newly elected Council Leader Muhammad Butt, who are supposed to be acting in the best interests of the ratepayers who elected them.

I just thought you may like to know.
Yours sincerely,
Gill Wood
Keep Willesden Green

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Statutory Notice of application to demolish 1894 Willesden Green Library

The tex below is a copy of the Statutory Notice issued on 22 May giving details of the Conservation Area Consent application which Brent Planning Service have received for the demolition of the Victorian Willesden Green Library building. It says where you can see the planning application (the One Stop Shop at Brent House),  when you can get advice from the Planning Service about it (Wednesday evenings between 4.30pm and 6.45pm) and who any written representations about the application should be sent to.
The time limit for objections is given as on or before 12 June 2012, but as the notice also has to be published in a local newspaper, and this will not be until 24 May, the 21 day time limit will actually expire on 14 June 2012.

Philip Grant




Notice is given pursuant to Regulation 5 of the PLANNING (LISTED BUILDING & CONSERVATION AREAS) ACT 1990 that the following application has been received by the London Borough of Brent for Conservation

Area Consent as detailed below:

Location: Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF

Proposal: Conservation Area consent for the demolition of the old library building.

Our Reference: 12/1191

A copy of the application and plans as submitted, during the period of 21 days starting with the date of this notice, may be inspected at the One Stop Shop, Brent House, 349 High Road, Wembley between 9am and

5pm Monday to Friday. We are also open on Wednesday evenings between 4.30pm to 6.45pm. to give advice to members of the public on this and any other town planning matters.

Any person wishing to make representations about the proposal should submit them in writing to the Assistant Director, Planning and Development, Brent House, 349 High Road, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 6BZ on or before 12 June, 2012. Please quote our reference number.

Dated: 22 May, 2012

Chris Walker
Assistant Director, Planning and Development

Monday, 21 May 2012

Libraries lobby at Brent Executive tonight

Brent SOS Libraries has submitted a response to the report on progress on the libraries  transformation project which is being discussed at the Brent Executive this evening.

The SOS Libraries response is available HERE  The Executive Meeting starts at Brent Town Hall at 7pm and library campaigners will be outside from 6pm.

Philip Grant's letter to the Brent and Kilburn Times calling on Brent Council not to interfere in the planning application process is below:

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Main points for objections on conservation grounds

Philip Grant has prepared a document which highlights the main points to consider for objections on conservation grounds to the Willesden Green Library planning and conservation area consent applications. It was shown briefly at the meeting on 15th May, but is available below for those who wish to refer to it more closely, and for anyone who was not able to attend that meeting.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Meet May 15th to save Willesden from developer vandalism

Downlaod a PDF of the invitation below:

A reminder of what we may lose...

...unless we act now.

Replace the Old Library with a 'cultural memory'

The proposed development
Most of the planning documents for the proposed Willesden Cultural Centre are now available on the Brent Council website.  They are numerous and will need careful study.

Main Planning Application HERE

Conservation Area Application HERE

The future of the Old Willesden Library is of particular interest to many and the Heritage Statement is available below.

One key section states:
The loss of the Old Library is to some extent mitigated through ‘preservation by record’ and the undertaking of the historic buildings survey to English Heritage Level II standards, and which has been used in this report to understand the building’s significance. Should consent be granted for this or future schemes affecting historic fabric, it is recommended that additional recording be undertaken during demolition in order to supplement this report with further details of the building’s history.

It is also recommended that specific elements of the architectural fabric are retained, and where possible, reused within the new building as architectural details, art installations and/or exhibits within the museum space. While it is recognised that the scheme represents the total loss of the Old Library, the retention of certain elements would evoke the cultural memory of the building and help preserve the historic narrative of development on the site. Those pieces that should be considered for retention are as follows, though further elements may be revealed during the demolition process:

· Shell-hood above the former entrance way on the north elevation;
· Parge work on the north elevations and around the tower;
· Plaque commemorating the building on north elevation; and
· Weather-vane on summit of the tower

The remaining historic fabric and fixtures such as window frames should be considered for salvage, and where suitable, deposited in a suitable store such as the Charles Brooking Collection currently housed in Surrey

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Willesden Green planning application available tomorrow

The Full Planning Application for the Willesden Green Library Centre redevelopment was submitted to Brent's Planning Department on 4 May 2012, and has been given the application reference number: 12/1190 .
A separate Conservation Area Consent application, to allow the demolition of the 1894 Willesden Green Library building, has the reference number: 12/1191 . 

The applications and plans will be available to view online from Thursday 10 May.

Go to , from the list of options click "search for a planning application" then from the search by list choose "application number". By entering either 12/1190 or 12/1191 in the box and clicking on the query button you will be taken to that application, where you can click on "full details" for a list of the various documents submitted in support of it.

Chris Walker, Brent's Assistant Director (Planning & Development), has kindly provided the following advice on submitting objections:
'In terms of how you respond, it will be sufficient to include comments on both applications in one letter as long as you indicate that this is your intention and ideally quote both reference numbers.'
It will be possible to "comment on this application" via the Brent Planning website, although a letter (keeping a copy yourself) may be a better option. There will be a time limit (21 days from the date it is advertised) for objections to the conservation area consent application, so make sure that you object to the demolition of the Victorian library building in time!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Ann John cleared of planning misconduct

Brent Council has issued the following press statement:

The following statement was issued by Brent Council today:

Councillor Ann John OBE, Leader of Brent Council (Lab) was yesterday (2 May 2012) given the all clear by the council's Standards Committee. This follows her exoneration by an independent investigation looking into an allegation that she breached the council's code of conduct on a planning issue.

A formal complaint and request for the Committee to investigate Councillor John was made last January by Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Paul Lorber (Lib Dem). This followed his receipt of a leaked email from Labour Councillor Dhiraj Kataria sent to Councillor John and others.

In the leaked email, Councillor Kataria alleged that Councillor John had attempted to interfere with the council's planning process by seeking to influence a planning decision.

A detailed investigation into the allegation was conducted over a 12 week period by independent solicitor, and former Director of Casework for the Standards Board for England, Hazel Salisbury.

A report detailing Ms Salisbury's findings was presented to the council's Standards Committee yesterday (2 May 2012) for consideration. Ms Salisbury's report states that she found no evidence to corroborate any of the allegations made against Councillor John.

The council's Standards Committee was satisfied that Councillor John had not breached the council's code of conduct and unanimously agreed to release the report.